This story is by Breeia Smith and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“All large bills, sir?”
$1500. I get it’s a casino, but damn. We have entire bill-breaker machines on the side of the cage. But abuse the power of human efficiency, I guess.
“Sure, sir,” I gritted my teeth, as I turn to leave. “I’ll be right back.”
“Lose the attitude, too” he shouts, as I headed for the back
“I don’t have one” I shouted back.
A lie. I did. But not for what people think. You see, I’ve had my eye on someone for quite some time, now. A long time. The very place we met is right in this cage. I run into him all the time out if sheer coincidence and weird, accurate timing. He’d have to be blind not to have seen me too, though he’s proved to me that he’s been watching. Since the move he made, I made a few of my own. Which has brought me to this as sudden downward spiral.
“Who you cussing out now, huh?”
My supervisor got jokes. Nichols knew I wasn’t the type to take shit from anybody, so she made she made sure I had a wing to be under, even if it was hers.
“You always think the worst of me.”
“I do not,” her grin spoke for her, regardless of her words, “I just know how quick you can turn.”
“Turn? Like, the Hulk?”
I’m glad she found this amusing, because I didn’t. “Nah, you got him beat.” Wow.
“I really don’t appreciate your attitude, this evening,” I admit, approaching the bank window, “you know these people verbally abuse me, especially. And I try to hold back-”
“DO you?” Wow.
“Trust me Nichols, you haven’t seen me on 10 yet.”
“Girl, I hope I don’t.”
“Me too,” I feel a pat on my shoulder before she left me alone, “May I 5 straps of $20s, please?”
I’m met with a side eye of curiosity.
“Is it really busy like that? I just gave you your bank.” Cordelia.
“Yeah, it’s a war out there. Matter of fact, you might as we throw a couple $100 straps my way too, kid.”
Her fingers slam the pen she was using onto her desk, not looking away from me. “Imma hurt you,” she uttered before turning away.
For some odd reason I believed her. Maybe because I’ve seen other casualties-
A door opening cuts through my thoughts. The figure moving as the door closed caught my attention. I flinch from viewing, since I already knew who it was. The jingle of his keys became an indicator of his presence, anyway, I didn’t have to look.. They became that familiar. My chest clenched, trying to focus on anything else. Anything but him.
“Cordi, do some work!”
“You too, Dominic.”
“Why do you think I’m in here?
“To work my nerves?”
“Nah, I’m a busy man.”
“Yeah, clearly you’re busier than ever tonight.”
I can’t breathe right now. His arms hang off the bank window from his side, or ‘the outside’, the area where authorized team members can enter. I catch glimpses when I get the chance. With my heart beating a mile a minute, it’s a wonder how I’m still standing.
I’m disappointed in myself for feeling this way about him for so long. Since my first week or so, I’d see him in the cage all the time. I didn’t think much at first, but since October, or month 2, his presence began to grow on me. I saw things past his cool demeanor that resonated with me, as if this person would be the only one that could ‘get’ me and not judge my character based on my episodes at work. He started to keep my attention without even trying.. He didn’t even know who I was then, but I got a sense, after a while, that he wanted to find out. Despite being strangers, we always seemed to ‘meet up’ in ways that are next to impossible. This further peaked by curiosity, seeing him all the time, as I’m sure it did with him.
Since then, I’ve subconsciously felt his eyes me, more often than not, whenever he passed the cage. I also felt he passed it a little too often, but I figured he had to pass the cage to get places, despite having access to every elevator in the casino. And don’t even get me started on the times I saw him staring at me from across the casino, of when I was with my best friend in the ‘employee underground’ and I watched as he watched me from across the room before disappearing into the restroom. It felt as though I was being watched. And I liked it.
By the end of March, he spoke to me. ‘Wassup’. I was surprised, yet ecstatic. Finally you noticed me, I thought. Since then, we spoke nearly every day at work until I started to crave more of him. Then I did the ballsy and unthinkable.
“Can I actually ask you something?” I pass him, leaving the cage, and I just felt compelled to ask for more.
“Wassup, buttercup?” I began perspiring. That, alone, was a turn on.
“Is there any way I can reach you outside of this place?” I shook to say.
His grin widened as he pulled a note pad and pen from his pocket. His only disclaimer was his frequent sleeping. I thought this would be a beginning of something new for us, but I was mislead.
Fast forward to the present month, July, my discouragement is at an all time low. I tried to get conversations going over the phone, but with little to no success. It’s pretty much 2 texts a day with him, since he lacks his own effort. Last night was no different. Not only that, he doesn’t really show any change in the way he treats me, despite him not showing any increasing interest. I would think he’d want to get to know me too, since he knows vice versa from expressing it in the past. Hell, he didn’t even acknowledge me when I was just at the window, in front of him. He has a habit of not paying me any mind, further confusing me.
“Here you go, Quinn.”
Snapping out of it, I sign for my bank. At my money counter I notice a familiar figure, presumably finished with his conversation. I refuse to give into him so eagerly anymore. Yet, he stares until I notice. I’ve notice, but I won’t give him the satisfaction that I’m okay with barely communicating. Not again./
He’s still looking at me./
Why is he staring at me?/
Why don’t you just speak?/
The cage door slam is audible. He left. I should too , before I dwell on how he makes me feel./
“$1500, sir.” My chest hurt with his abandonment, so my face was a stone.
“Smile.” He had the nerve to say.
Fuck off. I was never in the mood.
After that guest, there was no line. I took the opportunity to try and figure out my unrequited feelings. He’s been a sweetheart to me since we started speaking at work and he treats me like a girl should be treated. But I’m afraid he’s leading me on. Being too nice have resulted in heartbreak, I’m sure. I just wish he would just tell me how he feels about me. Sometimes I have the overwhelming urge to just give up the quest for love, then he grins at me, passing by, and I remember what I want from love in the first place. But it is, of course a fleeting idea.
Why didn’t you just leave me alone? Do you like me as a friend? Are you crushing, like me? Or do you have a more careless intent with me? I can’t tell with him. The way he ignores and stays away from me makes me melt, so what does that say about me? That I’m obsessed; whether of him or love? Is this the one my heart will forever ache, or break for, if he let me in? Or is this your typical every day crush? Most importantly-
I’m met with a large grin, as Dominic past my window. The grin I form doesn’t leave my face for a while.
How can someone who has put little attention into me affect my mood so easily? Maybe the lack of communication keeps us both at bay…but for himself. He wants to be around, but he doesn’t want to be close. Close could maybe become too close to him. What kind of selfish acts against humanity? Who starts something to leave it unfinished and unfulfilled?
The biggest question I’ve asked, and will keep asking until I get the answer, is why. What are his true intent with me?
“Next guest, please!”
Until he does, I’ll stand tall, till I collapse…just to get back up, taller than I was before. A daily routine.